Liz graduated summa cum laude Spring 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Botany. She came to OSU in winter 2012 as a sophomore transfer student after taking classes from a variety of colleges due to spending six years enlisted in the Navy. Not long after starting classes, she got a job with the Oregon Flora Project assisting with the digitization of herbarium specimens and conducting research into the ethnobotanical uses of Oregon flora by Native Americans. After taking mycology with Joseph Spatafora and lichenology with Bruce McCune though, Liz developed an undivided interest in all things related to fungi. To widen her experience with fungi, she got a job as a student lab technician in Jane Smith’s mycorrhizal lab at the PNW Research Station on campus. She also served as an undergraduate TA for Botany 321, Plant Systematics, taught by Aaron Liston. The whole time she was at OSU she was an active member of the Undergraduate Botany Club, and served as the club secretary her senior year.
In 2013, she received the Merrill Family Foundation Scholarship and the Jean Siddall Memorial Scholarship, which helped immensely with off putting some of the financial burden of school. Additionally, that summer she received the Botanical Society of America’s PLANTS travel grant that covered the cost of travel and all conference fees for the 2013 New Orleans BSA conference. This was her first time being exposed to such a wide swath of men and women in academia. Being able to learn about current research across the country and having the opportunity to talk to graduate students and researchers had a huge influence on her decision to pursue graduate school.
Now a graduate student in Dr. Betsy Arnold’s lab at the University of Arizona, Liz is studying how ectomycorrhizal fungi and fungal foliar endophytes of the host species Pinus ponderosa are affected by abiotic and biotic stresses. This study has a goal of understanding how these plant-fungal relationships for this agriculturally important tree species will be affected by climate change, and is due in large part to the reception of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.
Liz’s advice: “Don’t be afraid to go and talk to professors and graduate students. Ask them about their research, and ask them questions. A large part of my success in actually getting the NSF GRFP was due to the assistance I received from various professors around OSU; after coming up with research questions and study designs, I would discuss them with professors to work out the kinks and then revise them. Hearing what people who had been conducting research for decades had to say was invaluable and I learned a lot from their breakdown of my ideas. I really enjoyed my time at OSU, and the wonderful Botany department. The PNW is a wonderful place to study plants and fungi, so take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.”